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Dankmar Adler

Photo credit: Chicago History Museum
Dankmar Adler Photo credit: Chicago History Museum
Photo credit: Francesca Russell
An acoustical and aesthetic masterpiece: the Auditorium Theatre. Photo credit: Francesca Russell

Dankmar Adler was the partner of architect Louis H. Sullivan.  Together, they designed more than 150 buildings in the post-fire building boom from 1880 to 1895. They gained fame especially with the high-profile Auditorium Building and Theatre  project, which showcased Adler’s expertise in acoustic and structural engineering.

At the time of the Auditorium commission, Adler was already known for his skill in creating excellent acoustics in the Central Music Hall on State Street. But the Auditorium project truly put the Adler and Sullivan partnership on the map, and for the next several years, it brought in prestigious commissions from far and wide.

The two housed their offices on the Auditorium Building’s 17th floor, where a young Frank Lloyd Wright worked as one of their draftsmen. In his memoirs, Wright would later sing the praises of both of his mentors.

The Adler and Sullivan partnership faltered in the late 1890s after a series of setbacks including the 1893 economic depression, dwindling commissions and interpersonal conflict between the two men. Adler died of a stroke at age 56 in 1900.